Metro Briefs

BY DI STAFF | MARCH 01, 2013 5:00 AM

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Local man struck in a hit-and-run incident

A local man was apparently the victim of a hit-and-run accident by a newer model maroon car Wednesday afternoon.

At 12:18 p.m., Iowa City police responded to a report that a pedestrian had been struck by a car at the intersection of Wayne Avenue and Arthur Street.

Upon arrival, police officers learned that a passerby located an injured 20-year-old male at the intersection where he had been reportedly  hit. The victim declined medical treatment and reported that he was crossing the street when he was hit by a newer model maroon car that was being operated by a young white male. The driver did not stop after he hit the pedestrian and had still not been identified on Thursday evening.

— by Rebecca Morin

North Liberty woman charged after allegedly setting fire to a mini-fridge

A North Liberty woman was arrested after allegedly setting fire to a mini-fridge.

Melissa Despain, 43, was charged Feb. 21 with third-degree arson.

North Liberty police officers responded to Despain’s residence after a report of the odor of smoke in her home. She reportedly told officers she believed there was a fire in her residence. Police official located the fire in Despain’s garage on top of a mini-fridge.

After North Liberty firefighters conducted an investigation, they determined the fire was set intentionally through the ignition of a container of Neatsfoot oil that was set on top of the mini-fridge. Despain was the only one present at the residence during the time the fire started, the police complaint said.

Third-degree arson is an aggravated misdemeanor.

— by Rebecca Morin

Man charged after allegedly attempting to strike Johnson County officials with his vehicle

An Iowa man has been arrested after allegedly trying to strike numerous law-enforcement officials with his vehicle.

Jeffrey Jurgensen, 48, was charged Jan. 28 with eluding, OWI, and assault with a weapon on a peace official.

Johnson County deputies attempted to locate Jurgensen after he reportedly attempted suicide, then fled his residence. Johnson County officials located Jurgensen in a field. Jurgensen reportedly attempted to flee from police officials. He then spun around multiple times, allegedly trying to hit police officials with his vehicle, the complaint said.

Jurgensen reportedly yelled to law-enforcement officials, “I am not afraid to take you out,” the complaint said. During the chase, Jurgensen got his vehicle caught in the field. A Taser was used to subdue Jurgensen. He smelled heavily of alcohol, had slurred speech, had bloodshot eyes, and had defecated in his pants, the complaint said. Police officials also located numerous Miller Lite cans in his vehicle, and Jurgensen admitted to drinking.

Eluding is a serious misdemeanor, as is OWI. Assault with a weapon on a peace official is a Class-D felony.

— by Rebecca Morin

Iowa City to offer funding for Mission Creek

The Iowa City City Council will consider authorizing funding for the 2013 Mission Creek Festival on March 5.

The resolution provides $5,000 in funding for the festival. The City Council Economic Development Committee approved the measure 3-0 and recommended approval of the request by the full City Council.

The festival will take place April 2-7.

— by Nick Hassett

Iowa City to consider river-trail project

The Iowa City City Council may authorize city staff to apply for funding assistance for the development of the Iowa River Trail along the Iowa River on March 5.

The resolution would enable city staff to apply for grants from the Iowa Department of Transportation, using the State Recreation Trails Program, Federal Recreation Trails Program, and the Statewide Transportation Alternatives Program.

If the funds are awarded, they will be used to develop a 10-foot wide trail along the west bank of the Iowa River from Benton Street to Strugis Ferry Park.

The total estimated project cost is roughly $2 million. Each grant requires a local match between 20 to 30 percent, which would be reduced if awarded numerous grants.

— by Nick Hassett

Iowa City to approve animal shelter plans

The Iowa City City Council will consider setting a public hearing on the replacement of a City Park shelter on March 5.

The resolution sets a public hearing on March 19, which would focus on plans, specifications, form of contract, and estimate of cost for the construction of the shelter, located in Lower City Park.

The project would include a prefabricated wood and steel shelter structure, with concrete footings and slab. The estimated construction cost is $135,000 and will be funded through the Parks Annual Improvements account.

— by Nick Hassett

The Vine building may be classified as a historic landmark

The Iowa City City Council may set a public hearing to discuss allowing apartment units to be located in a building to be designated as a historic landmark.

The resolution would set the public hearing on March 19. The approval of the amendment following the public hearing would allow the Board of Adjustment to consider the addition of apartments on the ground floor of the Vine Tavern Building, 330 E. Prentiss, which may be designated as a historic landmark under a separate resolution, which also sets a public hearing on March 19.

The special exception required for apartments in historic landmarks is already allowed in CB-10 zoned buildings. The amendment would extend this option to landmark buildings located in the CB-5 zone.

— by Nick Hassett

Iowa City levee plans may move forward

The Iowa City City Council will mull a resolution allowing the city to move forward with the West Side Levee Project.

The project includes the construction of an earthen levee, riverbank stabilization, and interior storm drainage improvements, extending approximately 3,000 linear feet along the western bank of the Iowa River from the CRANDIC Railroad Bridge to McCollister Boulevard.

The estimated cost of construction is $5,563,000 and will be funded with Community Development Block Grants.

— by Nick Hassett

Officials schedule public hearing on Iowa City budget

The Iowa City City Council will host a public hearing on the city’s budget for fiscal 2014 on March 5.

The hearing will  discuss the proposed operating budget, the three-year financial plan for fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2016, and multi-year capital improvements program through fiscal 2017.

The state requires the budget be certified to the Johnson County Auditor’s Office by March 15.

— by Nick Hassett

Trial reset for Iowa City landlord accused of peeping on tenants

The trial has been reset for an Iowa City landlord accused of allegedly spying on female tenants.

Elwyn Miller, 63, is charged with 11 counts of invasion of privacy. He allegedly peeped at female residents through manufactured holes in the walls and ceilings of female residents’ bathrooms.

Miller’s trial had been previously set for March 12 at 9 a.m., according to online court documents. His trial is now set for April 9 at 9 a.m., with a pretrial conference set for March 25.

According to a police complaint during the initial investigation, Miller allegedly peeped at girls while they were in the shower through holes in the ceiling next to the vent fan. In an interview with police he also allegedly stated that he had looked at female residents at least two or three times during their time in the apartments and went to the peepholes at least once a week.

— by Cassidy Riley

Iowa moves up in healthiest-state ranking

Iowa is now a few steps closer to being the healthiest state in the nation.

Iowa is now ranked the ninth-healthiest state in the nation, according to 2012 data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Iowa was ranked No. 16 in 2011.

The jump in rankings shows progress toward Gov. Terry Branstad’s Healthiest State Initiative, which aims at reducing obesity and making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by 2016.

“I am excited about the progress we have made in making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation,” Branstad said in a release. “This ranking proves our efforts are working. We jumped seven spots in an effort we began less than two years ago. I want to commend all Iowans who are working on this important effort, and I want to encourage the people of this state to continue their great progress.”

— by Kristen East

Northbound lanes of Madison Street to close next week

Portions of Madison Street between Court and Burlington streets will be closed beginning March 6 as part of a University of Iowa utility construction project.

The northbound lanes will be closed through April 17.  One southbound lane will remain open, as well as the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center drop-off zone, and the northeast and southeast building entrances on Madison Street, according to a UI press release.

Drivers needing to reach Burlington Street will take a detour east on Court Street, then north on Clinton Street, the release said. Additionally, the sidewalk on the east side of Madison Street will be closed to pedestrian traffic.

— by Kristen East

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